As the Nationals made official their signing of right-handed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year, $4 million contract, General Manager Mike Rizzo indicated he still wants to add starting pitchers to an already deep stable.
Rizzo also revealed he hoped to add a team option to Wang’s contract, but in the course of the “amicable, professional” negotiations Wang and his agent, Alan Nero, resisted and settled on a deal that will make Wang a free agent after the 2012 season.
“That was a big part of the negotiation,” Rizzo said. “We of course wanted a team option added to the contract. We feel that if a healthy Chien-Ming Wang goes out, has a terrific year for us, he goes back out onto the market as a free agent. Alan Nero and Chien-Ming did not want to have a club option for that same reason. We kicked around a mutual option, but that didn’t make sense to either side, either. At this price point that we signed Chien-Ming at, a one-year deal is what Chien-Ming wanted. He wants to prove that he’s a healthy pitcher and get back on the market with a full, healthy season under his belt.”
Rizzo assumes that after the 2012 season, the Nationals will still have the “first right of refusal and have the best chance of signing him,” he said. He said he and Nero have “a great rapport” and that Wang remains committed to the Nationals, who aided his comeback over the past two years from a torn shoulder capsule.
“I am appreciative of the opportunity and all the support the Nationals gave me to make the comeback,” Wang said in a release issued by the team. “I am excited about next season, playing together with my teammates and look forward to doing my best to help the Nationals to the playoffs.”
After not appearing in the majors since July 4, 2009, Wang completed his comeback in late July this season. He made 11 starts and went 4-1 with 3.71 ERA over his final nine games. While Wang threw only 91 innings in 2011 between minor league rehab and the majors, he will have no restrictions in 2012.
“He’s going to be free of pitch counts and innings limits,” Rizzo said. “He’s a veteran horse that we’re going to count on. With another full offseason to rehab, he should come to spring training 100 percent ready to go. There will be no limitations whatsoever on Chien-Ming.”